TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - A senate proposal aimed at keeping young offenders out of the criminal justice system got off to a rocky, but successful, start this week, passing its first committee.
The senate criminal justice committee approved the measure on a 5-2 vote.
Supporters say programs that issue civil citations to young offenders or otherwise send them to pretrial diversion programs can save money and help youths avoid being marked for the rest of their lives for youthful indiscretions.
Children in diversion programs are required to do community service and receive counseling, substance-abuse help or other interventions. State Senator Anitere Flores touted her bill during a news conference Tuesday.
State Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami said, "If we don't change this law, and make the civil citation program uniform and mandatory across the state, we are robbing these kids of their future."
The programs are either in place or are being put in place in 62 of Florida's 67 counties.
Flores' bill would require counties to have programs and would require law-enforcement officers to issue citations if juveniles commit one of a list of nonviolent misdemeanors for the first time.